Older Democratic Aides up in Arms Over Obamacare Costs

Friday, 22 Nov 2013 11:07 AM

By Lisa Barron

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Older Democratic congressional aides are stunned by how much more they will have to pay for health insurance under Obamacare, and party chiefs of staff are now calling for an amendment to the rules.

"In a shock to the system, the older staff in my office (folks over 59) have now found out their personal health insurance costs (even with the government contribution) have gone up three to four times what they were paying before," Minh Ta, chief of staff to Democratic Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, wrote to other Democratic chiefs of staff in an email, reports Politico,  which obtained a copy of the message.

Ta said that many older staffers may leave their jobs as a result. "I am asking for a solution now because I will lose staff in my office because of this snafu," he wrote in the email.

Editor’s Note: New Video: Obama Plans to Redistribute Seniors’ Wealth

The problem stems from the fact that under Obamacare, lawmakers and their staff members were required to leave the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program in order to get health insurance on the new exchanges.

But under the guidance of the chief administrative officer of the House, congressional offices were able to classify their workers as either "official office staff" or "unofficial" staff, with the former needing to obtain coverage in the marketplace and the latter being allowed to keep their federal employee plans, reports The Hill.

Lawmakers reportedly got guidance about the designations just a short time before the Oct. 31 deadline for deciding. Although prices were available on HealthCare.gov in October, there wasn't a tool for determining how much of a difference the federal government subsidy would make, according to the Hill.

"I mentioned to payroll and House [administration] that it was unfair for our offices to make this designation without allowing our staff the ability [to] actually go on the [marketplace] to compare rates," wrote Ta.

Those rates are much higher for older people, as age is one of the few factors that insurers can use to adjust prices under Obamacare.

Ta said in his email that he had asked a Democratic staffer on the House Administration Committee whether she could redesignate some of the aides on his staff as nonofficial, but "So far the answer is no, and that we have the opportunity next year to redesignate staff."

"Obviously staff turnover's a concern," a Democratic aide in another office told The Hill, adding, "We're losing one staffer, for reasons you could say are related to this."

Ta ended his e-mail by asking other chiefs of staff to petition the Administration Committee for an immediate solution.

Editor’s Note: New Video: Obama Plans to Redistribute Seniors’ Wealth

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